A Few Questions About Wine – The Education Of Jiggy (Part 4)

“This is where the magic is done.” Charlie said as he led Jiggy through the vast expanse of the work floor of his winery.

Jiggy looked around wide-eyed. He didn’t expect it to be this big. He pointed this out to Charlie.

“We are not making country liquor. And we are making a reasonably large quantity.”

“Everything is so clean.” Jiggy muttered. Charlie heard it and smiled. You can always surprise us Indians with cleanliness.

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“It has to be. Even though the process by which wine is made is fermentation, everything that comes even in its proximity is sterile.”

“Why?” Jiggy asked.

“I will explain. When the juice is extracted from the fruit, that itself is sterilized first. This is to ensure no random yeast will ferment it. After that is done we add the yeast WE want, to the pulp. This is because the yeast we add, actually ferments it to the taste we like in the wine. In short the yeast is the catalyst.”

“What happens if you don’t sterilize the pulp or the juice?”

“Unwanted flavors. Random particles of yeast are flowing through the air as we speak. They help you make dosas and idlis and dhoklas. True. But all that tastes the same, regardless of which yeast you fermented it with. Wine is another matter altogether. You give a wine made with natural fermentation to an enthusiast, he will surely catch the doing, by just smelling the thing!”

“Just smelling?!”

“Yes. Also, the process is incredible delicate. The same juice to which we added the same yeast, which is kept to age for the same time, may not taste the same the next time. Even if the procedure is ditto. Even if it is machine made. It’s a very subtle art.”

Jiggy seemed to be in deep thought. Now they were walking past huge glass jars in which the pinkish red wine was stored. The bottom of these jars had solid sand-like layer. Jiggy pointed to it.

“What’s that?”

“That’s the wine I am making for myself. My little side-project?”

“Why is it all muddy in the bottom?”, Jiggy asked, peering at the glass jars.

“Well, when the yeast is done with the fermentation, the wine is not exactly clear. Some granules still remain, which is not good from an aesthetic view. So, we add clay. The sediments stick to the fine particles of clay and settle at the bottom.”

“Ah. You do this to fruit wine too?”

“No. Not with every wine. This is a process for this wine. Other wines have their unique processes.”

“Cool.”

Jiggy looked convinced, but also looked as if he was dying to ask something. Charlie, the astute, saw this.

“What is it?”

“Can I see the whole process, from start to end?”

“I am sorry Jiggy, but no. Trade secrets. Once we are a big name I will personally show you. Until then please. I have shown you quite a lot. No one has had a VIP tour like you have.”

“Cool. I didn’t think.”

“Hmm?”

“I never thought it was so much work.”

“It is, Jiggy. And so much more.”

Jiggy was so absorbed in thought, Charlie had to put his hand on Jiggy’s shoulders to lead him to their car and drive to their hotel. Jiggy looked out from the window the whole ride.

Charlie smiled and left Jiggy with his thoughts.

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